I really don’t remember how it all began. I mean my fascination with cemeteries.
My first cemetery memory is that of my grandfather funeral. I was 10 years old and I remember two things. One is that the guys who put the soil over the casket were wearing sweatpants with holes in them and I found it quite sad. The other was shooting. My grandfather was a military man so there was a salvo of honor at the funeral. I was surprised by this, cause I associated cemeteries with quietness.
Graveyards have always some aura of mystery. You become quiet there, you can argue at the flower shop over bouquet but then you pass the cemetery gate and you lower your voice. At least in my country. You behave yourself well showing respect to those who died. Like they cared… I’ve never liked such fake rules. Also in the church. Why do we have to be quiet and so serious? Why can’t we happily sing and dance during mass like on some American movies? I’ve never understood such a vision of God who doesn’t allow a dog to enter his home, which church suppose to be. I thought he is Mighty, I thought he is Good, I thought he loves all the creatures, dogs and birds and all the people. So why are the churches closed when there is no mass in there? Why are they not open all the time for those who want to speak to God at his home? Am I going too far? Well, it is all connected, isn’t it? Anyway, I love Danish cemeteries. Here you feel alive. And there’s nothing wrong about it. In a circle of life, life and death are mixed together in unison. Here you can do whatever, you can run, you can dance, you can sing and take your dog for a walk, you can even drink a beer on the bench and I am telling you, there is completely nothing offensive in this! It is just so natural to go on. And it doesn’t mean we do not honor the dead. Just the opposite. We can laugh at their graves, we can eat and drink and cultivate live. I bet they would prefer us to do so, instead of walking with heads down, crying and hushing those around.
Another thing about Polish cemeteries is that they are sometimes a place to show off. Who build bigger grave, who has a better spot, who is better dressed on the 1st November (All Saint’s Day). In DK graveyards are humble and green. There are many trees or at least hedgerows. The graves are small, sometimes just a stone with MOR (mom) on it. Often with some nice figures around, birds, dogs, frogs, you name it.
And that is why I honestly recommend visiting Assistens Kirkegård when you arrive in CPH. It is a big cemetery with different sections. And, as I was living close to it for some time, it became my favorite place to walk with Kaprys. Now I live in Charlottenlund, close to another cemetery which we often visit together with Kaprys and Tomek. 😉
And so my fascination goes on. Now, when I am in different countries I visit cemeteries. They are sometimes depressing. And sometimes they give hope. But there is always something special about them.